Blue mussels, Mytilus edulis L., are a very important source of protein and nutrition. They are among the most nutrient-dense sources of protein and long chain fatty acids of any shellfish consumed in the U.S. today, are low in calories, and are a great source of vitamins (e.g. C and B-12) and minerals (e.g., iron, selenium, zinc).
According to a recent Maine farmed shellfish market analysis, aquaculture products account for 15% of the U.S. supply, and aquaculture accounts for 7-10% of Maine’s volume (†). Unfortunately, close to 50% of the domestic live mussel market is being filled by imports from Canada, and in the Northeast U.S., Prince Edward Island (PEI) mussels are a significant competitor.
DEI is examining methods to expand production of cultured Blue mussels in the U.S. by addressing barriers to increased farmed mussel production.
In August 2013, the University of Maine at Machias received a 2-yr, $630,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to conduct applied research on both Blue mussels, Mytilus edulis, and Arctic surfclams, Mactromeris polynyma. DEI is a collaborating entity in the project, along with the University of Connecticut, Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center and Pemaquid Oyster. The project also has two commercial businesses that are participating. For blue mussels, New DHC, a company related to Cooke Aquaculture, the largest producer of farmed salmon in the United States, is working with DEI to grow mussel seed in fallowing salmon pens at sites in Eastport, Machiasport, and Beals.
The second phase of our mussel research began in 2017 with funding from Maine Sea Grant. This phase focused on four major components:
- Developing hatchery techniques (broodstock conditioning and cryopreservation) that enable the production of mussels throughout the year.
- Testing different types of mussel settlement substrates in the hatchery and field.
- Examining the effectiveness of “remote setting” technology.
- Growing multiple cohorts per year.
Learn more by clicking the links below.
† The Hale Group (2016). Maine farmed shellfish market analysis. October 2016. Gulf of Maine Research Institute. 65 p.